Come up with your own ideas and respect the ideas of your co-writers. Unless if something is your idea and you are the one coming up with it and it is not being used in the co-write session, then later you can work on it alone or with another co-writer but if the other person comes up with it, it is not yours, no matter what.
Communication is the key. Before you co-write, talk about how you like to work and what the plan will be if you write something cool. It’s extremely frustrating to write a great song with someone and then be told “I don’t have money to demo it”. What’s the point of writing it if you can’t get it recorded and out to the world? If you are having money problems, tell your co-writers that before you show up and discuss how to handle a demo if you can’t pay your share. Whatever it want to be, good or bad, it is best to communicate and let your co-writer to know all about your mindset and your plans in advance, to prevent any sort of misunderstanding or disappointment later.
If you don’t like where something is going in a co-write, pull the plug – earlier rather than later. Don’t finish a song with someone and then say “I don’t like this song. I don’t want my name on it.” Be upfront. Tell your co-writer the minute you start having that feeling. You can either call it a day or try to find another idea to write, but don’t go along for the ride and then tell them. Not cool. This is a huge waste of time and energy for both of you and your co-writer. Don’t be afraid of talking out the moment you start having a feeling and be sure if you say it out loud, it’s still going to be much better ending than keeping silent until the last minute.
In the event that you need to divorce a co-writer, be honest but kind. It’s okay to say, “I just don’t think we are the right combination, but I appreciate you giving me your time”. It’s also okay to suggest bringing in another person to help salvage the song. There’s no shame in asking for help. If the divorce is inevitable, don’t drag it out. Don’t place blame. Just be straightforward and end it. Again, this way you can save so much time and energy from yourself and your co-writer.
After the divorce, sort out what to do with the song you were working on. You can say “Do you mind if I take this idea I brought in and write it with someone else?” But, they might say “no”. Technically, if the two of you started it, you both have a right to it. If you didn’t bring the idea in, the best thing to do is to say “I don’t mind if you write it with someone else as long as you don’t use the melody or any of the lyric that we started”. Usually, it’s best just to let that song die and move on to the next one. But, figure that out before you leave the room. Don’t leave things unsolved. It never goes anywhere nice.
Remember that word gets around. If you are ugly to a co-writer, word spreads. Do that too many times and you’ll be struggling to find anyone to write with. Be nice and respectful. Always. Always remember, the people who think they are smart, they just “think” they’re smart. Nothing beats honesty and politeness, specially in this industry that mutual respect is a very important factor for finding good co-writers.
Don’t talk down to a co-writer. You aren’t there to teach or instruct your co-writer. If they need that, then you don’t need to be writing together. If you really think so highly of yourself – which I strongly recommend never to do that no matter what position you are in – then don’t go to a co-write with someone you don’t see them in your level. But if you enter the session, be humble and get your job done.
Don’t talk bad about your co-writers. When I hear a co-writer telling me something bad about another of their co-writers, it lets me know that they probably talk badly about me too when I’m not around. And that makes me not to work with them. Plus, if you want to say someone is so bad and is this and that, why did you write with them in the first place? By talking bad about someone else, you’re basically shouting out about your own weaknesses.